French telecommunications giant Orange, which has said previously that it is interested in playing more aggressively in South Africa’s telecoms industry, has announced plans to launch a Wi-Fi network in the country through its Orange Horizons subsidiary.
In a statement, the company says it will launch what it’s calling the “initial research and test stage” of a planned Wi-Fi offering and has partnered with Cape Town-based African Eagle Tourism to provide free Wi-Fi services within its fleet of vehicles.
“Wi-Fi is underdeveloped and underutilised in South Africa, whereas Europeans have come to rely on the technology to satiate their appetites for data,” says Orange Horizons CEO Sébastien Crozier in the statement. “For tourists visiting South Africa it is hard to understand why there is so little access to Wi-Fi. This lack of accessible wireless connectivity tarnishes the perception of the country from a tourism perspective.”
He says once Orange has completed the initial test phase, it intend a “larger-scale market entry”.
“We have heard their calls, and we are responding.”
The limited launch of Wi-Fi services follows the introduction of a series of consumer-focused products by Orange in South Africa over the past 18 months. These include an Orange website; an online store selling discounted consumer electronics gear such as phones and tablets; and data, voice and Sim-card products offered both through the Orange online store and through Nashua Mobile outlets.
“South Africa remains a very important market for Orange, and we see great potential for future growth and expansion,” says Crozier.
South Africa: Tech Central